A Mighty Heart

Posted on June 18, 2007 Under Art

Whatever good or bad can be said about Angelina Jolie surely has already been written, but her sincere effort to portray Mariane Pearl, wife of Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl in the narrative film A Mighty Heart should be respected above all petty grievances over celebrity, privilege and private lives. Hardly a soul on earth missed the story of Pearl's capture and gruesome death while few really know about his wife's ability to see beyond her personal grief and urge Daniel's friends and colleagues to maintain compassion — even to those who took her husband's life. I met and spoke with Jolie briefly at the New York premiere, a benefit for Amnesty International, who graciously provided me with tickets for the best seats in the house and passes to the afterparty that followed.

Her back turned to the paparazzi as they snapped pics of her infamous tattoos, Angelina smiled as I expressed my gratitude for making the film -"“ something I truly felt. Earlier that day, her handlers were carelessly overprotective by making unreasonable censorship demands around any interview, a rather strange contradiction to the message of "freedom of press" of the movie. She more than cleared the air on the Daily Show with an apologetic retraction.

After a walk down the red carpet following Jolie in a $26 thrift-shop dress with partner Brad Pitt (who produced the film), we joined about six hundred guests including Hillary Swank, Ed Norton, Jeremy Pivens, Mike Douglas, Judd Hirsch, Geraldo Rivera, Kimora Lee Simmons, Edie Falco, Brian Williams and old friend Calvin Klein in the beautiful Zeigfeld Theater in Midtown to see the film. Director Michael Winterbottom arrived with cast members Will Patton, Asif Mandvi, Irrfan Kahn as we were welcomed to the event by Amnesty's Executive Director, host and benefactor of New York's event. A Mighty Heart details not only the kidnapping and tension awaiting word of Pearl's fate but more importantly serves as a powerful reminder of the real poverty, chaos and despair in the third world that has given birth to our current state of affairs and the devotion to terrorism by the multitudes of disenfranchised, lost souls who have been betrayed by their leaders, governments and fellowmen. Sure, many are maniacal fundamentalists with distorted religious passions yet even Danny Pearl was a stand for a dedication to justice and tolerance in the world; ironically his death, as well as the film, has now become a vehicle to draw attention to the need for the higher ground of forgiveness on the part of even the most infuriated westerners. If the effort to bring this behind-the-scenes story to life does nothing else, let it be that people become aware of the extraordinary, healing work of The Daniel Pearl Foundation. Jolie's emotionally charged performance as Pearl's wife captures raw courage against unbearable strain. Her outburst upon hearing the horrifying truth is as visceral and painful as would be giving birth three month's later to their son Adam. Jolie has never acted so well or with so much passion "“ she may very well see some nominations here "“ and I have never seen her so radiant as she was on Wednesday night. Had I the opportunity to discuss her more important role as an ambassador for refugees for the United Nations, I would have offered to show her some sights where we've worked. She'll be busy during her year off from acting, and I'd love to show her some of the relief camps in Indonesia and Sri Lanka where her presence might make a difference. In any case, the film is well worth seeing "“ it is a moving, gripping reportage of one of our lifetime's most seminal moments. Don't miss it, and even more importantly, like Pearl and Jolie, let us all have compassion for our shared grief about the state of the world.